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The March Hare, STJ April 2017

There is no predicting how a Stage Time and Juice show will come together. We usually start by throwing around themes that have to do with the month. Alliteration is always a plus. Sometimes we will approach someone to do some sort of activity or performance within the show, and we will build around that. The theming is not always central to the event, but on the occasion where the separate participants coalesce around it, magic begins to take place.

Let’s not feign total innocence with the selection of last month’s theme of “The March Hare”: we knew that Ruth Landowne Giordano had staged the Reader’s Theater production of “A Mad Tea Party,” Chapter 7 from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in the past. We had a sneaky feeling that if we dangled the title in front of her, she wouldn’t allow this opportunity to slide by. As it turns out, not only was Ruth game to revive it, but she wanted to update it with a twist: by incorporating some Juicers as readers. As she explained, “I think the addition of the children will make the production quite sweet.”

Once the decision of hosting a mad tea party had been set, we transformed the event into a British high tea by serving up scones made from KP Kitchen’s wonderful mix, decked out with clotted cream and jam. We also provided “Drink-Me” punch, a concoction whose recipe is known only to the alchemists of the Red Room. Unfortunately, the punch was a grand failure: none of the Juicers changed their shapes or sizes, although it may have had some contribution to transforming some of the guests into performers.

A few weeks before the event, we received a most unusual request: a mother was wondering whether she could hold a birthday party celebration at Juice. This gave us pause: we had never thought to combine our stage event with a private celebration. On the other hand, the temptation of holding a real birthday party within a staged tea party was too much of a temptation to resist. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare would have appreciated the flipping inside out of the situation. Once we had acquiesced, mom Nomita signed off with the curious remark: “I like this theme.”

Photo by Jean-Jacques Chen

It turns out she is an artist who sculpts in cake and fondant: she showed up with a remarkable stacked tower of a cake, covered with Alice in Wonderland motifs. It took her two days to shape and paint it. Needless to say, the Juicers demolished it in minutes. Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes with us: we know a good thing when we see it, and we consume it.

The show itself began with our open mic lineup. There were many first-time visitors on the stage, who tenuously shared poems and jokes. One boy performed a spectacular Indian dance, complete with cool dude sunglasses. Two siblings introduced a game, and invited audience members up on the stage to get slapped on the hand. Another sang a sad love ballad while she played the guitar. One girl played a musical piece on the keyboard.

Constance Woods tried to teach us how to dance the Pata-Pata in five minutes. Due to our failure to fully grasp the subtleties of her performance, she has agreed to return and get us all wash wiping and hopping in proper South African form in May.

The show ended with the performance of “A Mad Tea Party.” We were amazed at how polished the junior Juicers looked next to their talented R4 counterparts.

There is a link to the YouTube of the entire “A Mad Tea Party” performance and some footage and photos of this special event on our Stage Time and Juice Facebook page. Although it’s nice to look at pictures to try to understand what is going on, we heartily recommend that you to come to our events in person to experience for yourself the indescribable.

And that’s what you missed at Stage Time and Juice!

Carol Yao

January 2017: Stage Time and Juice

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Stage Time and Juice XXI kicked off 2017 with the theme of storytelling. Various stories, true and fictional, took the Juicers up, down, and around the bend.

Nicole and Carol began the show with a retelling of the acidic encounter between a lemon and a lime. The exchange led one of the fruits to cross the road.

Once the sour mood had cleared the air, high schooler Valen shared her experience as a junior representative of Taiwan. This exchange apparently led her to cross the Atlantic in a pair of 10 cm heels.

Sensing the high spirits, overtone singer Mark van Tongeren led the Juicers on a roller coaster exploration of the musical tones that one hears when one travels up and down the vowel sounds.

Charlotte and Bea described life from the perspective of a book.

Brian then sent us all into the cutting edge of the present with his science fiction novel, Shift, with Whitney reading.

To reground us, cookies and hot cocoa were dispensed during the break by Betsy the Bar.

After the break, Jennifer advised us that if you can’t take the guitar, then learn the ukulele! (Red Roomers apparently will have a chance to do so in March! Shhhhh!) She then sang a sunny song.

Kai played a couple of pensive tunes on the keyboard.

Nicole and Julian encouraged us all to lighten up and dance.

And then, to the delight of the audience, Ruth and the Aesop’s Fables troupe took the stage, presenting us with words of wisdom for the new year. Tales presented: The Tortoise and the Hare, The Little Red Hen, The Fox and the Grapes, Two Travelers and a Bear, and A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. The children played multiple parts with lots of giggles and smiles, and ridiculous props. Jonah’s performance of a tree came across as quite wooden.

And that’s what you missed at Stage Time and Juice!

Carol Yao

Working Together: Impressions of Stage Time and Juice and R4

161204 1st Aesops rehearsal 2 from Red Room on Vimeo.

Ruth Landowne Giordano recently shared with us her impressions about leading the 5-week workshop to produce “Aesop’s Fables,” the second dramatic collaboration between Red Room Radio Redux and Stage Time and Juice. (The first one, “Jack and the Beanstalk” was presented at the anniversary celebrations just this past November.)

Ruth traditionally works with an adult cast to produce radio adaptations of classic literary tales such as “Dracula,” “Treasure Island,” and “A Christmas Carol.” She believes storytelling is an important way to keep alive certain aspects of culture, and to also teach valuable lessons. Her decision to involve children in the storytelling was because “children can bring a lot of imagination and energy to the performance.”

This is the first time she has worked with a bi-lingual group of children, with varying levels of proficiency in the English language. She selected Aesop’s tales and “The Little Red Hen” because she assumed that the children would have some degree of familiarity with these stories. Some of the children felt a little intimidated with speaking out in a less familiar language. Ruth worked around this by teaching them to express the story through body movements and sounds other than words. “All around I wanted it to be a playful time.” She hopes that the exercises that she took them through will open up alternatives to the more “reticent” kids.

When asked what she might do differently next time, she said she would not hold the workshop over such an extended period of time (five weeks with a two-week break for Christmas in between) because precious momentum is lost. She would also think more about how she can reach out to the children who might have confidence issues, working around her own pressure to meet a performance deadline.

Happily, Ruth is already dreaming about what the next production might be. Make sure you follow us on the Stage Time and Juice Facebook page, so that you don’t miss the next development! https://www.facebook.com/redroomjuice/

by Carol Yao

Stage Time and Juice, November 2016

To celebrate the Red Room’s seventh anniversary, and to mark the twentieth Stage Time and Juice, the creative team put together a lineup that would combine elements both new and old. For those unfamiliar with our history, Stage Time and Juice was created as a junior version of Stage Time and Wine, the Red Room’s famous open mic show that takes place on the third Saturday of every month. Juice was intended to serve as an incubation forum to help children and teenagers achieve the expressiveness and confidence necessary to evolve into Stage Time and Wine performers. It seemed an ambitious undertaking, one that the founding parents involved were not sure could be achieved.

Three years later, Stage Time and Juice seems to have made its mark: we now have a small but growing group of steady performers who have been bitten by the performance bug. For the anniversary, we reached out to these “Juicers” personally and asked whether they would be brave enough to share something with the anticipated larger audience. The response was enthusiastic: Michael, Maggie, Sarah, and Elisa would appear as an ensemble, the siblings Kanoa and Kailer would share a song, Nicole would perform with her guitar, Jayde and Alyssa would appear for the first time playing the ukulele, and Zosia would read something. The Margo twins were newcomers who joined in at the last minute, declaring their intention to play a few songs on the keyboard. This was the first time the Juicers performed on the unfamiliar elevated stage in a tent, and we did receive some feedback about nerves and unexpected challenges, but all in all it was agreed to be a rewarding experience for both performers and audience alike. First time attendees were impressed by the level of talent, and a comment we often heard repeated was

“I can’t believe that we waited until NOW to come!”

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Apart from the superb lineup for open mic, we also attained a special milestone this November: Juicer Jayde decided that she would give being an emcee a try. Her mom frequently emcees The Stage Time and Juice show: what could possibly go wrong? Stage jitters, it turns out. Jayde admits that she was “dying” from nervousness when she took the mic, but she discovered something: “It was easier than I expected, because once I got up there I felt that people were not criticizing me and I felt accepted.”

Usually, for a Stage Time and Juice show, apart from the open mic, we also invite a few adult performers to share something with the audience.

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Arsene, the Dream Magician, materialized of his own accord with his usual greeting: “Long time no see!” He had just returned from a mysterious assignment in Hong Kong where he had been working as a consultant on a magic show. The Dream Magician delighted the guests with several “classic modern” tricks, one in particular done first in slow motion and then speeding it up, challenging the audience to guess how an egg can be made to present itself out of thin air. Juxtaposed with this was the magic act of Burke Giordano, whom we became acquainted with last year as he coaxed balloons into fanciful shapes. Taking center stage armed with only a pair of oversized spectacles, a briefcase, and a whistle, Burke treated the children to a whimsical performance, referencing his favorite comedians: the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton.

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Burke’s magical act was followed by the ever-ebullient Sue DeSimone, our Stage Time and Juice rock diva, who led the audience in a sing-along of “This Little Light of Mine” and “Sing,” accompanied by her guitarist friend, Vincenzo Cuccia.

We end our narrative with a description of the opening number of the show, the dramatic reading of Jack and the Beanstalk, accompanied by sound effects. Keeping in mind that this might be the first time that young audience members encountered a radio play, there was first a brief introduction about sound effects, read in English (Ruth) and in Mandarin (Ashish) followed by a training session where the audience was coached to produce sound effects on cue. The story was then read by Carol, Zosia, Julian, and Nicole. The youngest of the crew, Jessie, assisted Ruth with the sound effects table. Here’s the spoiler: at the end of the story, Jack managed to escape from the giant’s castle with the silver and chopped down the beanstalk. The beanstalk fell with a huge crash, and the audience was handsomely rewarded for their participation.

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After the show, the Juicers were turned loose to paint the streets with flowery, geometric rangoli forms, which according to Indian tradition can attract good luck. Creating rangoli has now become one of our Stage Time and Juice signature activities. Despite the heat, the artists worked enthusiastically, leaving the Air Force Base covered with an elaborate hand-painted carpet to greet the guests coming for the evening’s entertainment.

See more photos on our flickr album.

By Carol Yao

Stage Time & Juice Coordinator
topia@tig.com.tw

Collaborating for the Kids: STJ and R4, November 2016


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We would like to announce an exciting collaboration between two sibling groups: Stage Time and Juice @ the Red Room, and Red Room Radio Redux (R4)! Ruth Giordano, the director of R4, has been involved in all aspects of theater practically since she began walking. As she frankly states: she has more than 50 years of experience to share.

In the next two upcoming Stage Time and Juice events you will be able to enjoy the fruits of that collaboration, beginning with a presentation of “Jack and the Beanstalk” during our anniversary show beginning at 2:30 on Saturday, November 19. Ruth will teach several teens how to use their voice and how to hand-create sound effects to retell this fairy tale classic in a fresh and appealing manner.

January 21 brings us Aesop’s Fables, based on a script Ruth penned in 2008 for a children’s theater company in Massachusetts. She will be adapting to fit the Juice troupe. This workshop is geared towards the younger children (ages 7-13). Part of the preparations for taking the stage will include prop and accessory crafting: parents will probably be called upon to assist!

Make sure to visit our Stage Time and Juice Facebook page to receive the most current information about all our workshops and events.
https://www.facebook.com/redroomjuice/

If you, like Ruth, have a gift or passion to share, remember that the Red Room’s door is always open! A small exchange of knowledge can change a child’s (or grownup’s) life forever!

By Carol Yao and Ruth Giordano

Stage Time and Juice: Saffron and Playing for Change!

Stage Time and Juice passed its 3-year mark over the summer. Anticipating that our audience would thin out as people headed off on their separate vacations, we decided to put together a special treat for those who remained in the city. Thus, our Stage Time and Juice XVII: Saffron Summer was born!

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Taipei City Playgroup mom, Jaya, immediately volunteered her husband’s restaurant’s services in providing some authentic Indian treats. Red Room mother, Roma, offered to lead us in drawing some chalk rangoli on the passageway. Priya Lalwani Purswaney, the newest addition to the Stage Time and Juice creative team, managed to snag the Dubey siblings, Awantika and Akash. The well-seasoned Dubeys introduced the art of kathak dancing accompanied by tabla percussion to our family audience. It was engaging, intimate, and of course had the most special element of Stage Time and Juice, being that everyone gets a front row seat!

STJ photo by Kenneth-Hu

STJ photo by Kenneth-Hu

As always, the Juice open-mic performers came out in full force, demonstrating techniques that they had developed in front of us over the years. Jaya turned to me at the end of the show, quite astonished. It was the first time she had come to Juice, and she felt that perhaps by attending regularly, this might just be the proper environment to coax something out of her stage-shy son as well?

September was our Playing For Change Fundraising month. We have held this event three times already, but this year we decided we would attempt to better our donation from last year of US$100. US$100, from Playing For Change’s perspective, is not a trifling amount: it can pay for 2 months of music classes for 4 children in Nepal. But our team decided that we would try to shoot for the NT10,000 mark this time, or about US $320.

In previous years, we had depended on the children and sometimes adults to come out and perform. We decided that we would emphasize this gesture in a fun way by placing a guitar case in front of the stage, and allowing the audience to show their support both for the performers and the cause by tossing change into the guitar case. All proceeds went towards The Playing For Change Foundation.

Volunteer Sue DeSimone happily invited some professional musicians to attend the show in order to introduce the Juicers to different kinds of music, namely rock, blues, rockabilly, and jazz. In the spirit of the Playing For Change organization, the event raised money for music education, but also provided some musical education content of its own!

Finally, we asked our community sponsors to donate their own products and services to our raffle. There was quite a dizzying and unusual array of prizes, but it impressively showcased the surprising range of projects that our larger community is involved in!

Many things did not go as expected in both events. In July, the TAF decided to fumigate the compound that day. As agreed upon, they sprayed around our area only in the morning and moved on to other places in the enormous complex, but that did not stop the guards at the gate from informing our guests that they would probably die if they attended our event! In September, the band riled up the audience so much that they were unable to return to their usual quiet attentiveness for the children’s fundraising segment. This was particularly painful to us as organizers, because the nurturing aspect of our open-mic segment is what is particularly special and precious about our program.
On a more positive, and unexpected note, we raised US$580 (NT18,186) to donate to the Playing For Change Foundation! According to their website, this amount can support A Playing For Change Foundation teacher in Africa for almost half a year. For some children, this teacher is the only formal schooling they receive.

Katrina, one of the original founders of Juice who was visiting with her family from New Zealand, remarked to me that she was impressed by how far the “regular” open-mic performers have progressed. She was happy to see some of the children she had taught since they were very small expressing themselves up on the stage in ways she had not imagined.

Running Juice has its successes and failures every time. It will always be unpredictable, given the open format of the show. But if you were to plot our results over time against the confidence and creativity of the performers, much as one does when tracking financial investments, you see that the curve is definitely heading upwards. It’s good to remind ourselves that we have done something positive and important here, and it’s a little more than just having fun.

To join and follow the progress of Stage Time and Juice, check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/redroomjuice/

Carol Yao
Coordinator, Stage Time and Juice

Reflections, Stage Time & Juice, May 21 2016

Check out videos and photos from May 21 on our Facebook page.
The title of our May 21 Stage Time and Juice: Mum’s the Word! is a play on the themes of Mother’s Day and spring. What could be more spring-like than to celebrate life from the perspective of insects? The Juicers were treated to bouncing grasshoppers, whiny bees, supercilious water striders, tragic mayflies, and self-important cicadas, as interpreted through the poems of Paul Fleischman. The poems, read by two readers at once, sometimes in synchrony, sometimes not, demonstrated how poetry can sometimes be performed as a form of music.

Sue DeSimone, on the other hand, seemed to be bugged by something else, leading the Juicers in a plea for ice cream. Her guitar accompanist, Jimmy, seems to have been infected with her melancholy, because he broke into a bit of blues himself after her song was done.

Devry presented a soliloquy from Henry the V while waving around a sword…um…bamboo stick. Two young sisters performed a violin and cello duet from the Japanese animated film “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” One young man sang a song named “Seven”, deploring his lost youth at the ripe old age of nine, and then finished with a keyboard rendition of “Chopsticks” with his mother. His brother did a couple of magic tricks. A pair of siblings read from their favorite story books, one talking about what mommies do and the other describing the sentimental value of a scarf. Finally, two little monkeys demonstrated what it means to be on a roll.

And that’s what you missed at Stage Time and Juice!

Carol Yao

Stage Time and Juice XVI: Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
— Henry David Thoreau

And different drummers we heard indeed. Many different drummers. And people of all shapes and sizes with shakers and tambourines and wooden frogs and other things that I don’t even know the name of, moving to the rhythm of the same beat. Afterward, Sue said, “(It) made me realize that I really miss doing music with kids, since I feel about 5 most of the time!”

There were poets being celebrated as well. Kai introduced us to a melancholy American poet, Robinson Jeffers, who, in 1925, mourned the demise of America. I recited a poem written by Shel Silverstein that complained about being inseparably joined together. Nicole read a poem by Kenn Nesbitt elaborating the shortcomings of her smartphone. Perhaps the Juicers will now have the impression that poetry is only for complaining.

Maggie asked us some riddles, most of which we were able to guess. Later, Michael accompanied her on the conga drums as she sang “Dream Keeper.”

The fiery redheaded 5-year-old puppet, Mimi, told us about her boyfriend who is so overwhelmed with emotion for her that he is unable to actually be with her. She also talked a little with Jennifer Joy about what a bummer it is to be so cute that everyone wants to touch her.

The envoy, Peter, from the British Ministry of Silly Walks, explained that one could have a fine career developing silly walks. The audience was then encouraged to try their best. Five exceptionally silly individuals were awarded presents from the two lollipop girls, Charlotte and Bea, who happen to make all-natural, home made lip balms, surprise soaps, and epsom bath salts. (For those of you who were not silly enough to get some, you can always order your own from Mila Earth Body Care.

A young newcomer sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Charlotte ended the show on a serious note by asking us some tough questions about what we would rather be.

And that’s what you missed at Stage Time and Juice!

Reflections – Stage Time & Juice, February 2016

Stage Time and Juice is not exactly an event you can “plan” in the strict sense of the word. There are too many unknowns. One does not know who the audience will be in terms of age group, nor what sort of performers will show up to perform. To coordinate a show that can hold the attention of children who are quite small as well as teenagers is indeed a challenge.

In many cases, things do not go as planned. In fact, we might even say that in most cases, things do not go as planned.

Nicole and I opened the show by returning to our tradition of performing a comic dialogue. We usually try to play with the theme, which this month was about the leap year, but if we can, we also work in an explanation of why the chicken crossed the road. We never get tired of explaining that one. Julian went up next, making a repeat performance of  the parody “Dramatic Song.”  Vicky, a Stage Time and Wine favorite, popped in by chance, and was coaxed into singing “Blackbird” while playing her guitar.

Musician Ying-Ho then took the stage with a pile of strange implements: seeds, a tin lid, a plastic bag, a paper tube, a pine cone. With these instruments, he created a sound massage for several volunteers. These sounds induced the volunteers to experience extreme sleepiness in a very short while. One volunteer wondered whether his wallet might perhaps have been missing afterward?

During the break, Karen and Patrick of KP Kitchen presented their delicious muffins, brownies, and frosted cakes. Surprisingly, even though they specialize in preparing muffin mixes, neither of them were familiar with The Muffin Man song.

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After the break, Jennifer Joy led the kids in a dancing session on the big red carpet. We then did our First Attempt at Staging a Drama during Juice. In honor of the Year of the Monkey, we chose to interpret Esphyr Slobodkina’s classic story “Caps For Sale.” We were lucky to have a surplus of talent this time around: Whitney narrated while Sue played the peddler. The most difficult job of Sue’s was to walk around with 10 caps placed on her head. Monkeys were solicited from the audience. As you can guess, we had no shortage of those!

Whitney then taught the kids some light saber fighting techniques. As often happens, the protegee will end up destroying the master. Her final impalement on the terrazzo floor of the Red Room was regrettable, but inevitable.

And that’s what you missed at Stage Time and Juice!

by Carol Yao

Stage Time & Juice, January 2016

Dear Stage Time and Juicers,

Due to the winter vacation and local school examinations falling around our regularly scheduled January Stage Time and Juice event, we have decided that we will move it toFebruary 20, 2016. (Third Saturday of the month, as always, held in the afternoon before Stage Time and Wine.)

In 2016 we are hoping to have an even more enthusiastic participation. We at the Red Room believe in supporting the informal arts community: by providing those who create with a means to share in a “culture of listening”, the Red Room strives to attain a richer, warmer, more compassionate society.

Stage Time and Juice is an effort to instill the same values in the future generation. Although it might just seem like a chance to get some kids behind a microphone, there is indeed, method to our madness!
Have we not been getting this message across? If we aren’t doing it right, come out and show us how to do it better!

And if you haven’t been to Juice yet…what are you waiting for?

Carol Yao
STJ Coordinator
cyao@tig.com.tw